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Petition calls for reinstatement of Ken Gass, resignation of theatre board

Artistic director Ken Gass poses for a photo on the set of the play, The Rez Sisters, in Toronto, Ont. on Nov. 8, 2011.

Michelle Siu/michelle siu The Globe and Mail

Supporters of dismissed Factory Theatre artistic director Ken Gass are calling for the resignation of the members of the board of directors responsible for the decision.

An online petition on the website Change.org asks the Factory board to reinstate Gass to the position he held until Wednesday night and tender their immediate resignations.

Created by filmmaker Ed Gass-Donnelly, who is Gass's son, it had been signed by more than 950 individuals as of late Friday afternoon.

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Prominent names currently listed in support of the petition include Ross Manson, artistic director of Volcano; Jennifer Brewin, artistic director of Theatre Columbus; and Toronto the Good playwright Andrew Moodie, who wrote that he would no longer be submitting his next play to Factory.

In protesting the board's decision by withdrawing his artistic support, Moodie joins the theatre's flagship playwright George F. Walker, who has said he will no longer allow his play Dead Metaphor to be part of Factory's upcoming season.

On Thursday, Gass alerted Toronto media that Factory's board of directors had terminated him the night before, effective immediately. "We wanted to move to a new phase of growth and development at the theatre," board chair Ron Struys told The Globe and Mail.

Gass and the board had been battling over diverging visions for planned renovations of the downtown Toronto theatre.

For many in Toronto theatre, however, Gass is synonymous with the Factory Theatre. He founded the theatre dedicated to Canadian playwrights in 1970 and again returned to its helm in 1996 to save the company from closing.

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